Guard goes to Houston for Rising Stars game
Bradley Beal will get a firsthand look at the NBA rookie of the year landscape when All-Star weekend festivities begin Friday in Houston with the Rising Stars Challenge.
The weekend's only participant from the Wizards, Beal may have more to play for than the rest of his teammates over the final stretch of the season. As well as the Wizards (15-36) have played since John Wall returned, they're 11 games out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with 31 games remaining.
Portland point guard Damian Lillard, who will suit up on the opposite side of Beal in the Rising Stars Challenge, remains a strong front-runner to claim the rookie award. He leads all rookies in points (18.3 per game), assists (6.5) and minutes (38.5).
|NBA All-Star weekend|
|Rising Stars Challenge|
|When » Friday, 9 p.m.|
|Where » Toyota Center,|
|TV » TNT|
Beal is third in scoring (13.2 points per game), fifth in assists (2.5) and second in minutes (31.0), all of which could go back up once he returns to the starting lineup after the break. Shooting better than 50 percent from 3-point range in January and February, Beal's overall 3-point shooting percentage (.365) has risen slightly above Lillard's (.350).
No. 1 overall pick Anthony Davis (12.5 ppg, 7.5 rpg) has been far more inconsistent than Lillard or Beal. He arrives in Houston coming off 21 points and 11 rebounds in New Orleans' 99-63 blowout of the Trail Blazers, but it was his first game scoring in double figures in the last five.
The rookie race also has been affected by injuries, with Boston's Jared Sullinger (back surgery) and Detroit's Andre Drummond (broken tailbone) injured.
Drummond was replaced by Orlando rookie center Andrew Nicholson in the Rising Stars game, filling out the roster for Team Shaq, which includes Lillard, Cleveland guards Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters, Golden State guard Klay Thompson and forward Harrison Barnes, Houston forward Chandler Parsons and Charlotte small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
Beal's Team Chuck includes Davis, Minnesota guards Ricky Rubio and Alexey Shved, Denver forward Kenneth Faried, San Antonio forward Kawhi Leonard and Cleveland forward Tristan Thompson.
Irving and Faried also will move on to Saturday's events, which add a conference allegiance element to the competition for the first time. Irving headlines the 3-point shooting contest, which also includes Indiana small forward Paul George, New Orleans forward Ryan Anderson, San Antonio forward Matt Bonner, Golden State guard Stephen Curry and New York forward Steve Novak.
Faried will be in the dunk contest with Utah forward and defending champion Jeremy Evans, Los Angeles Clippers guard Eric Bledsoe, Indiana forward and 2007 champion Gerald Green, Toronto forward Terrence Ross and New York forward James White.